2016 Auction Review – Rocky Mountain Oysters

Rocky Mountain OYSTERS

ss+(2016-03-13+at+11.06.00)

The man stole Bryce Harper from me. May as well crown him as champion. Kidding aside, Harper, Giancarlo Stanton on the same team with George Springer and the tantalizing possibility of Byron Buxton. Is it to borrow from a close friend…fake or for real?

Hitting – Very Good

If Vegas was taking odds on likelihood of me ending up with Bryce Harper or Bailey ending up with Giancarlo, they would have been favorites. The odds that Dusty ends up with both of “our guys”, was the parlay of the century. Between the two RMO¬†paid about $91 a star. That is a fair price now and going forward. Springer and David Ortiz clogging up the utility spots is a good problem to have (or as it turns out: no problem at all). In a team primed for 2016, I would have liked to see Byron Buxton‘s money buy Adrian Gonzalez, but I could be wrong anyway. Neil Walker, Josh Harrison, Brandon Crawford and Brett Gardner are all good enough to build around. The trade has already happened, but Yonder Alonso is probably not good enough to stick with at first base all year long.

Pitching – Alright

I really had a hell of a time rating this pitching staff. First lets get out of the way, the bullpen is forgettable. This rotation has three Houston Astros pitchers, Lance McCullers, Colin McHugh and Mike Fiers. Is that exciting? No. Is that bad? No. Kenta Maeda, Hisashi Iwakuma, John Lackey are all good in my book, but they have their concerns. Seven dollars Dylan Bundy. C’mon. I should knock the rating down one peg just for that. I think this pitching staff will perform honestly. And it’ll be alright.

Depth – Alright

The depth exists, it is alright. I like the pitching depth, I like the outfield depth although you hope not to need it. There’s a lack of first basemen on this roster, but that is probably easily solved. No backup catcher. But, it’ll be easy enough to mill through these guys and get points where you need them when you need them

Why 2016 would be bad…¬†

Things go South quickly if Giancarlo fails to play 100 games again, and the pitching staff is just mush. The first base spot on this roster creates a weekly deficit that is hard to make up. David Ortiz plays out his final season like Derek Jeter, just half assing it. If shit goes downhill fast, Dusty’s roster is better prepared to reload for next year than to save this season.

Why 2016 would be¬†good…¬†

You can see it now Giancarlo and Bryce are clearly leading each other in the home run race where they both clear fifty bombs. Maeda is as good as advertised, Iwakuma is actually healthy and the Dodgers used the medical to save face when the bear wanted to stay in Seattle. Buxton silences doubters by being a top ten fantasy center fielder goes a long ways on this roster even though Dusty doesn’t technically have room for him.

2016 Auction Review – The Foundation

The Foundation

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It takes a real piece of work to attempt to write objectively about their own team. I was going to try to do, but everyone knows I will not do it anyway. Please email Bailey with your critiques, he forwards them to me with a tip of poison. That being said, I’m quite excited about my draft, I think I did really well despite missing out on my initial targets of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper (I have a hard time writing anything at all and ignoring Bryce).

Hitting – Good

Paul Goldschmidt is a contender to finish as the best hitter in the league. He finished second last year, and there is little reason to believe he does not compete for that title this year. Adam Jones, Alex Gordon and Kole Calhoun round out a solid outfield. Derek Norris is a sneaky catcher value as he plays more and more at first base. Justin Turner‘s red beard is as fierce as his value. There’s a huge hole at short stop, I can can be heard talking up Jean Segura last year on another podcast, and I was wrong. I don’t plan on being smart here, he was just the last one left. I hate Ian Kinsler so he’ll either give me more reason to hate, or probably he’ll continue his vodoo and be good. I can hate him for being good. Byung-ho Park is the x-factor in this line-up. He fills in at 1b and the primary utility hitter. Is the power for real? So far in spring it seems to be. Two years ago I reached for an unknown Jose Abreu. Here is to hoping I did not get too cute on my own.

Pitching – Great

Chris Sale was the pitching prize left on the table. He’s quite good. Felix Hernandez had a down year last year with his lingering injury issues that he choose to pitch through, but he was still crazy good. Jon Lester can’t pick guys off, but he’s a great pitcher otherwise. The bullpen isn’t amazing, but it’ll score more points than most other bullpens in this league. Relying on getting a fifth guy from Doug Fister, James Paxton, Bartolo Colon and Zach Davies seems like a safe bet. Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson could be refreshing additions to the team after they return from the disabled list. Gio Gonzalez is the weird fit in this rotation. He’s uncomfortable as your 3rd SP, but probably overqualified as the 4th SP. A good problem for me to have, last year he was let down by the Ian Desmond led Nationals’ “defense”.

Depth – Good

I am pretty in love with myself my pitching staff in particular. My hitters are also position flexible and good enough to start in a pinch. If Dustin Ackley does not win a daily job in New York, things get hairy pretty quickly. I’m giving myself credit for knowing that after I add the three or four guys to the disabled list that I took, I’ll be able to snag a few worthy players from the current waiver wire. Probably not fair, but you’ve already quit reading

Why 2016 would be bad…¬†

Well if those knocks happen to come, andthe pitchers I’m hoping to be able to sit on don’t come around. Yikes, things go to hell really quick. I have already ran through various scenarios to see where my team would be if Sale and Goldy are gone. It is not impossible to be good 2016 yet, but that might be enough to sink this team.¬†Will I find myself in an early position to reload for next season?

Why 2016 would be¬†good…¬†

Goldy is a top 5 hitter, there’s two top 10 starters between Sale, Felix and Lester. Those two accomplishments will carry this team from¬†good to great pretty quickly. That is not asking a lot. The rest of the roster is in great shape and has room to take a few knocks.

Opportunity costs: the values of platoons and the elite tier

In all familiar with the fact that, in general, baseball teams have 27 outs to spend in any given game. Managers send out their players in what they believe will give the most return (in runs scored and runs prevented) on any given day in return for those 27 outs. Simple game.

Dynasty Grinders has its own out-like currency. Each week you have 10 hitter positions that could be filled each day. You also can fill three relief pitcher slots each day. Starting pitchers work a bit different, as you can only use seven starts each week, you have days with one or as many as five.

MLB managers get the benefit of knowing they will have an opportunity to use all 27 outs. In head-to-head weekly fantasy, we don’t get that benefit. We have to deal with off-days, rain outs, day games, player rest days, and surprise injuries among others.

We’re all facing the same struggle.

That being said, we can construct our roster to mitigate these pains as much as possible. Thirty man active rosters give ample opportunity to have backups at every position. Perhaps with some creative construction, and depending how many pitchers you plan to carry, you could have three players deep in most cases.

The advantage to having a good spread of players should be clear, but if it is not here’s the bottom line:

1.15

One point one five. That’s what Steamer projections have the average plate appearance worth if you take the projections from the top 350 hitters in our league. So what does this have anything to do with platoon players or the elite tier?

Elite players will average much more per plate appearance than 1.15. Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are both projected for over 1.8 points per plate appearance. They also do great things like finish games, play every day and are typically platoon proof.

These are all great things. If you have a player like this, lock it up, toss him in with a replacement level player and you have one powerful punch on your roster. This also probably gives you extra flexibility elsewhere on your roster.

0.93

Zero point nine five. That’s what Steamer projections have for the average plate appearance worth for the next 100 hitters. This is not an exact science, but as you can plainly see, the difference between what’s likely to be freely available and the typical average hitter is not a huge difference on this scope. At least not compared to what Trout and Harper mean. But, the difference has significance at the weekly level.

Say, ¬†on any given week if you start replacement level players in any one position, you could count on something around 29 points scored. The average player in the same time scores 36 points. 7 points per week is significant. But, also consider the talent level of the players we’re discussing. I’m using 4.5 PAs per game x 7 games played.

Better players get more PAs. Better players play daily. How many replacement level players do you need to get those seven¬†days filled? Three? Mike Alives, Clint Barmes and company do play, they do perform to some degree, but we all know they’re not regulars.

This is where platoons come in. If you are planning for them, even better. Just because overall these players might be at or around the 1.00 PPPA (points per plate appearance) mark, they might hit against lefties or righties at a much better rate. That matters. The clever manager could manipulate some tier 2 or tier 3 production out of some lower level talent by just using them when they’re in favorable positions to succeed. If you can afford the roster spots to juggle them around a bit, why not?

Paul Goldschmidt and Miguel Cabrera are great, because they’re set it and forget it type players. And they’ll fetch a premium in the draft because of it. But there’s a plethora of really good players in niche situations that could be put into positions for you to take advantage of. You’ve just got to find them first.

Pre-auction valuation of players, an introduction.

It is fairly commonplace now days to have a multitude of resources that help you compete in fantasy sports. Whether you use magazines, subscription websites or various crowd sourcing tools, there is usually little problem in drawing what a player’s value will be in any fantasy league.

Dynasty Grinders is not different enough to make those types of tools useless. Quite the opposite, I believe in having more information to gather to draw my conclusions. The crowd definitely has information for you to draw from.

That being said, there are differences. Dynasty Grinders is a head to head, points based scoring, dynasty fantasy baseball league. It is similar to FanGraphs‘s version of Ottoneu, but different. We have a larger budget, draft different positions, more players. It is similar to standard dynasty leagues, but different, mostly because we are not roto.

That being said they all offer a synopsis of sorts about how the crowds are assuming players are going to perform from year to year. They are just projections, but these projections offer a baseline. This baseline is necessary to judge assumed value of any given player. The trick here for Dynasty Grinders is how to calibrate various projections or draft utilities to Dynasty Grinders’ settings.

FanGraphs does offer a nice auction calculator utility. It actually works quite nicely. But, alas, it also has its short comings. Take for instance the values of these top 5’s using Steamer Projections and with standard roster construction:

FanGraphs Auction Calc – Standard Hitters

NameTeamPOSPArPTSDollars
Mike TroutLAAOF6711256.1$89.8
Bryce HarperWASOF6471174.0$78.5
Giancarlo StantonMIAOF6471127.2$72.0
Paul GoldschmidtARI1B6581123.7$69.7
Miguel CabreraDET1B6491091.9$65.3

Phew, $90 for Mike Trout? Hot damn. That’s a hefty price for the guy who’s won four¬†one MVPs. But, in a sixteen team league, and with the projection of 1256 points, he has a value that it would take several players to make up at other positions. Let’s take a look at pitchers.

FanGraphs Auction Calc – Standard Pitchers

NameTeamPOSIPrPTSDollars
Clayton KershawLADSP2171430.3$118.4
Max ScherzerWASSP2121264.2$95.6
Chris SaleCHWSP2101251.9$93.9
Jake ArrietaCHCSP2081189.3$85.3
Corey KluberCLESP2111183.4$84.4

And there you have it. Starting pitchers! Now, nobody is arguing who is on the list. Those guys are studs, and in weeks that they start twice, your team is sitting in the clear driver seat.

Why the higher values? Well the context matters. First, this auction calculator is not considering that we’re a dynasty league, so while Max Scherzer is quite good, it might be better to throw the extra dollars on Corey Kluber who should be fairly easy to keep for the next half decade.

Secondly, Three of these guys are projected to outscore Mike Trout for the season. Now, any rational betting man would probably put their money on Trout to meet projections more than any other player. Pitchers are volatile, perform a job that biomechanically impacts their ability to stay healthy, and their statistical floors are just lower.

Finally, FanGraphs is tied to OttoNeu which doesn’t do head to head. They’re doing roto. This makes a difference too. Dynasty Grinders allows 7 starts per week. The guys listed above are going to get every chance to start no matter what. However, our league is likely to be prone to people not carrying 7 man staffs and streaming starts like FanGraphs assumes.

No, more likely you’ll be carrying a 9 or even 10 man starting pitcher staff. Why? Because, after the third or forth tier of starting pitcher, match-ups start to matter quite a bit. So while most teams will have their first four or five starts each week pigeon holed, those last ones often leave tactical match-up decisions.

Being able to keep 30 active players, it makes sense to grab more starters to have more choices, and also limit the streaming ability for other teams in a way. If you could pick 6 good starters who won’t get hurt, you could just do that. For those of us who can’t predict the future, we will be hedging.

So what does that change? Well let’s tweak the auction calculator, instead of letting it use the bench spots wherever, lets tell it that all 16 teams are carrying the following roster:

2 C, 1 1B, 1 2B, 1 SS, 1 3B, 1 CI, 1 MI, 6 OF, 2 UT, 10 SP, 4 RP

Yes, while we’re not able to capitalize on all these players as full-time starters, these guys who we will be bidding on backups, do offer coverage on a week to week basis. Each week offers an extremely limited opportunity in getting starts at each position. If Mike Trout is only playing 5 games one week, you’d rather have a backup play the other two days if possible, rather than leaving the spot open. You’d also rather have a starting capable player over the replacement level one. We’re all trying to win here…so what does the FanGraphs Auction Calculator say now?

FanGraphs Auction Calc – Adjusted Roster Hitters

NameTeamPOSPArPTSDollars
Mike TroutLAAOF6711256.1$55.3
Bryce HarperWASOF6471174.0$49.7
Giancarlo StantonMIAOF6471127.2$46.5
Paul GoldschmidtARI1B6581123.7$44.0
Miguel CabreraDET1B6491091.9$41.9

Well, that’s quite a difference… Let’s see those pitchers again…

FanGraphs Auction Calc РAdjusted Roster Pitchers

NameTeamPOSIPrPTSDollars
Clayton KershawDodgersSP2171430.3$71.1
Max ScherzerNationalsSP2121264.2$59.7
Chris SaleWhite SoxSP2101251.9$58.9
Jake ArrietaCubsSP2081189.3$54.6
Corey KluberIndiansSP2111183.4$54.2

Now these prices almost seem too low. They probably are. The truth is that the prices are most likely in between these two values of sorts. If you click on the links that I provided. You’ll see the difference more so.

In the original list, FanGraph’s AC is setting the replacement level ($1) for players ranked 16th, 17th, 18th. That’s certainly low. Addison Russell, Erick Aybar, and Brandon Crawford are all in that “zone”, and they’re all going for at least a few dollars, if not even more.

In the second list, where the replacement level for SS is being set much lower, those three guys are all being rated around $7. Low or high? Who knows. In the case of Russell, a rookie last year, perhaps its low, as the young guys attract value in dynasty leagues.

But, when you tell the calculator that there will be money spent on the bottom of the roster, that lowers how much can be spent on the top players. Over the next two and a half months leading up to the draft, I will be going over these valuations much more. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Oh, Happy New Year!